Ruby Wyles is a CurraNZ athlete and young running talent who ranks amongst the best in her age-group in Britain. The teenager from Guildford won silver (5,000m) at the 2019 England U20 National Track & Field Championships and was part of the winning Surrey Senior Girls team at the English Schools Cross Country Championships.
After achieving brilliant grades last year and receiving offers from three medical schools in the UK, Ruby made the decision to accept a full scholarship to pursue her dream of advancing her running career in the States.
In January she took up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. Here, Ruby blogs about how the year has developed, the massive impact of COVID-19 and her impending move to Colorado.
Ruby writes: “I arrived at SMU in January after deciding to put medicine on hold and pursue my crazy running dreams of competing in the Olympics and running professionally.
The first half of the term (pre-COVID19) was great. I achieved top grades in all my classes, made friends, became accustomed to life in Dallas, and really enjoyed the training. I loved the incredible facilities and talented specialists available to athletes - high performance gyms, recovery tools like Normatec Boots and huge ice baths/ hot tubs, cryotherapy chambers, physiotherapists, sports doctors, and more.
My days revolved around running before classes, then in class for about 4-6 hours each day, studying, team training, meeting with coaches, academic advisors, medical professionals, and more.
The staff are so supportive and really want to make your life balancing academics and athletics as easy as possible, because, truth be told, you do have a lot on your plate. Being a full-time degree student alongside training like a full-time athlete is hard! I am quite good at time management, and really enjoyed balancing these two passions of mine.
I’ve loved having the coaching oversight at training sessions, someone with a hand on the stopwatch and eyes on the athletes. I’ve gone from training alone to training with a team and being surrounded by like-minded full-time athletes.
I also love being part of a group of women supporting women, elevating each other to dream bigger and achieve more; a rising tide lifts all boats.
There has been a big shift in emphasis on post-run recovery. At SMU I have access to more treatments, therapies, and recovery tools like ice baths and recovery boots - and the team prioritises this much more than I did in the UK.
When the COVID19 pandemic exploded in March, my life - alongside everyone else’s - was massively impacted. Texas went into lockdown, campus closed and students went home.
I moved in with a family-friend who lives in Texas and went into complete self-isolation for 14 days before being allowed out to run daily.
Classes went online and all group interactions (including training) and races were suspended.
I finished the academic term online, studying hard, and achieved a 4.0 GPA in my final exams - the highest grade possible.
I’m still training hard, and running is keeping me mentally sane and there’s no doubt I’ll be ready when races start again.
After the first semester at SMU I made the difficult decision to transfer to a different university. Being from the countryside in the UK, I found the inner-city, urban life in Dallas hard to adjust to. It’s a great university, I am grateful for the incredible opportunities and fantastic people, but in my gut, I knew it was not the right place for me. So, I am heading to Adams State University in Colorado (pictured, above) – which is smaller and in a more rural setting.
Before COVID19, I had planned to compete in the outdoor season and run at some big, historic US track meets, like the Stanford Invitational and Penn Relays, so I was devastated when races were cancelled.
Over the next year, I’ll be focusing on being competitive in cross country within the NCAA (the US university scene) and achieving success both as an individual and with my university team. I want to improve my times over all race distances, with an emphasis on the 5000m and 10,000m.
My last race was the Telford 10k last December where, using CurraNZ, I ran a 10k PB of 35:57. Then, a few weeks ago I ran a 5k solo time trial in less than ideal conditions (32°C and 23mph winds) and managed another BIG PB of 16:45.
This shows the good progress I’ve made and allows me to make more specific time goals. Next year I’d like to be running under 16:30 for the 5,000m and 34:50 for 10,000m on the track, and see where that takes me.
Most importantly, I’m just looking forward to finally racing for the first time in America, travelling with the team, pulling on the team vest, and representing my university.
A big thanks to CurraNZ - I've seen a big improvement in my running times since using the product and they are magic for recovery. I'm always recommending the product to people and can't wait to get going again properly with them at my next University.